When people ask me why I wear the same dress every day, I tell them the honest answer–it’s just easy. It’s nice to know what I’m wearing each day so I don’t have to worry about if I have anything clean right now that fits me. It’s nice to wear something I feel beautiful in so I can stop worrying about whether I look pretty enough. It’s nice to pull something out of my closet with the same carefree confidence that a man uses to put on the same jeans and t-shirt or sweater each day (which he is never questioned about). As the months have gone on, I’ve realized that it’s not just a lifestyle change spurred by frustration with my closet. It also represents the rejection ofÂ worryÂ centered around my appearance. Although I project a very feminine gender expression, it is motivated by this very second-wave utilitarianism in fashion and third-wave sexual confidence.
Dresses have always been my default because I love the ease and comfort of wearing them–they make me feel free. I can pack less, I can add leggings or tights or scarves, I can still fit in a good cotton shift when my weight fluctuates five or ten pounds. Whatever I add or subtract to it–jewelry, accessories, heels, weight, cardigans, tights–The Look is always anchored by this simple, solid column of fabric. So in its way, it’s extremely practical for my lifestyle and responsibilities.
Reconciling my feminism with my love of clothing–and my tendency toward the feminine fineries of fashion–has never felt challenging to me because I think that if we ignore the power of clothing to influence how we are treated, we cede our power to influence or change that system. The act of getting dressed has political and economic consequences on a broad level, and the increasing accessibility of fashion offers more class mobility, opportunities for identity exploration and actualization, and creates a visible narrative of the shifting of power in our society. Clothing is transformative. When our social, economic, and political opportunities are always attached to the way we look, that’s something to be aware of and something worth reacting to. I’ve reacted by creating a uniform for myself that I love.
Photo by Daniel Muller.